The Volunteers


There’s sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll … then there’s good clean fun – and Elan Mills leans towards the latter these days.

The onetime guitarist for Wellington rockers Paselode now heads The Volunteers, a soulful Kapiti Coast sextet with a sense of style who will play Revolver tomorrow night promoting debut album Friends, Family & Fools.

Mills says the trappings of life with his new outfit sit better with him than the “bad habits” he developed as a younger man.

“I wanted to be in a band that was quite upbeat and positive,” he explains. “We’ve drawn upon some of the classic influences from the 1950s, the 60s and the Motown days.

“Bands like The Meters and Sly and the Family Stone, where there’s a real dynamic between members of the band.

“All that stuff rang more true than that skinny-white-boy rock ‘n’ roll thing where it’s four boys pretty much destroying themselves and living on the edge. That was fun a few years ago but I guess I’ve found inspiration elsewhere now.”

Mills began cobbling together The Volunteers in 2005 after returning to hometown Paekakariki “burnt out” from his Paselode experience.

Phil Simmonds, founder of Simmonds Brothers Animation and father of bassist Joe, captured the process on film and developed a 12-part “documation” series featuring the band as animated characters. The internet-based series is no longer running but Mills says they hope to release it on DVD down the track.

“We had some worries about it but in hindsight it wasn’t that much of a risk unless it had really blown up and we’d ended up being famous for being cartoon characters or reality show stars instead of musicians.”

For now, Mills is happy to let the music do the talking. Punters respond well to the goodtime sounds of a band that includes a trio of female backing singers, he says.

“There’s a lot of warmth and a lot of dancing so I think it’s quite an uplifting experience. There’s a bit of theatre about our band.”

Catch The Volunteers at Revolver tomorrow from 10pm